When determining whether something is genuine Delftware, experts look for makers’ symbols or initials, which are often on the base or back of an object. In the video below, curator Femke Diercks shows what to look for when examining a mark.
What does a Delft mark look like?
Delftware may have a mark on the base or back consisting of letters or figurative symbols. These are makers’ marks that indicate where the object was manufactured. The mark will incorporate the name of the pottery or of the owner or manager, sometimes in full.
Marks can often be found on the base of the object. The index of marks lists all known marks used by Delft potteries in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Does Delftware always have a mark?
If an object does not have a mark, this does not necessarily mean that it is not Delftware, as not all potteries used marks. Only around a third of Delftware has a mark. Furthermore, a mark does not always automatically mean that an object is genuine Delftware, as marks were also sometimes falsified.
Does the mark include the word Delft, Delfts or Delftsch?
‘Delftware’ is not a protected brand name, and it is often used to this day for ceramics with blue-and-white decoration. It is therefore fairly common for objects that are not Delftware – because for example they were not made in Delft, or were made using more modern production techniques rather than the traditional Delftware technique – to be marked with the word 'Delft'.
Is the mark handpainted or made using a stamp?
The next step in examining the mark is to look at how it was applied. Is it handpainted, or stamped? Stamps were not introduced until the late 19th century, which means that the object cannot be antique Delftware. Antique Delftware was made in the late 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries.
Is the mark in itself enough to determine whether something is Delftware?
A mark can give a lot of information about when an object was made, and by whom, but to ascertain for sure whether it is Delftware, you will also need to look at the material and the decoration.